ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Freelance Photography: Animal Photography

Updated on May 10, 2011

There are all types of freelance photographers and finding the photos that interest you is a step in the right direction. One form of freelance work is taking photographs of wildlife and animals in their natural habitats. There is a specific name for animal photography it’s called wildlife photography and I will share some tips that I have learned to get the best photographs from wildlife


To successfully take photographs of wildlife there are some basic things that need to be followed. There are always exceptions but if you stick with the basics usually you can turn out some very unique and rewarding photographs for your efforts.

o Use natural lighting to your advantage.
o Fill the frame with the subject.
o Focus on the eyes.
o Shoot from various angles.
o Capture personality.

Some people have asked me if there is a way that you can fill in the frame of the subject or capture the wildlife personality you are shooting without using large cameras or SLR with huge lenses to capture them.

Well here’s the secret most wildlife photographers don’t always take there “winning” photographs in the wild like you would assume. A lot of them are captured by just visiting the zoo in your local area. A lot of places around the country that have polar bears, cats, deer etc., are just taken from their local wildlife sanctuary. Is this cheating maybe but it is a lot less expensive and a lot less dangerous with certain animals if you do. But, on top of that you can truly get some great photographs.

Doing a search of local zoos or wildlife sanctuary’s in your neighborhood can usually be done easy with a simple Google search. Try to find ones that offer special tours just for the photo enthusiast that way you have less people competing for the same space. It may cost a little bit more but your photos can be very well done even will a simple point and click.

Animal Photography Tips for Wildlife Sanctuaries and Zoos

  1. Simplify the Composition: If your subject you are photographing has a loud or distracting background. Use photo editing software to blur the background or use a setting if your camera is equipped to disrupt the background of the photo so the subject is the focus of attention.
  2. Go Natural: One thing to always be aware of is what you are taking a picture of  If you are taking pictures at the zoo you want to avoid anything in the frame like barricades, fences, and additional distractions up front. Look for those sweet spots around the tours to get the best vantage points. Again, use a good photo editor to blur what you couldn't eliminate while shooting the photo.
  3. Fill the Frame: Use zoom (optical for best quality) or a telephoto lens to get close up.
  4. Use Sports Mode: Some cameras come with action shot settings or sports settings use this to adjust shutter speed for those action shots.
  5.  Use Light and Weather to Best Effect: There are better days then others to shoot wildlife one of them is on overcast days. If the overcast is just right it will help get a decent picture of the subject you are taking without a lot of glare from the sun. If the overcast is too dark and you have an SLR, raise the ISO. With the right amount of overcast, you can get well exposed, sharp pictures with your compact, and the animals won't be squinting. Since the eyes are usually very expressive and the best place to focus, you really want to avoid squinting.
  6. Try this When Shooting through Glass: When you are filming your subject through glass there is always a flash reflection from it use your camera and place it flat against the glass and move it out about 20 degrees and adjust as needed when shooting in aquariums or ponds. If there is ample lighting you can always turn off the flash play with it and see which produces a better photo quality?
  7. Plan your Visits for the Best Photo Ops: People love looking at photographs of animals and will love it if you are able to take new photos of babies that have been born. A lot of times you can get some good exposer from the zoo by giving them permission to display their new photos on their website. Another good time to go to sanctuary’s is when it is time to feed and early in the morning this is when the animals are most active and not napping due to hot weather.
  8. Use Context: Context is very important not to widdle the animal from the frame but to add texture to your photos. For example when you have a baby looking at a animal or a giraffe is over hanging the fence to be fed by someone standing close bye.
  9. Capture Expressions: Animals just like people have certain personalities and expressions and one way to do that is to capture those moments. Even if they are normal expressions like a cat yawning. Or a tiger licking his lips each are interesting and let you learn about the different behaviors of animals. This is really helpful because of the great shots you will be able to spot before they happen.


Submit a Comment

  • maggs224 profile image

    maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain

    I loved this hub; I found it very interesting and useful. I will be voting it up and hitting the useful button.

    I am a keen amateur photographer and I love taking macro photographs of insects especially bees some of which I publish on RedGage.

    Publishing my photographs on RedGage is very easy I can do it one at a time and it makes me a little money. This is a way you can earn a little that is not in conflict with HubPages.

    This is one of mine if you are interested

  • Mrs. J. B. profile image

    Mrs. J. B. 7 years ago from Southern California

    My daughter is studying photography and is just going to love this hub. I forwarded it to her so she can read it herself. You made this so interesting and very easy to follow.